It wasn’t until she was sitting at a table surrounded by friends and family that Jennifer Bott, dean of the Miller College of Business, said receiving a 2017 Business Journal Woman of Influence Award finally felt real.

“Receiving this award has not changed the way I work or the way I see myself, but I have recognized the responsibility and commitment it places on me,” Bott said. “In our society, we don’t say ‘Thank you,’ or ‘Good job,’ as much as we should, and because of this award, I consciously try to carry that out here in the office. 

“I try to tell everyone ‘Thank you,’ or ‘Good job,’ at least once a day to show them I appreciate them.” 

One project Bott attributes as a reason she was nominated to receive a 2017 Business Journal Woman of Influence award was her work with Ball State’s online program. 

In 2010, multiple task forces were created by the university to guide a strategic plan for online education. Bott led the team that researched and proposed ways to grow online courses.

The group created a detailed road map that led to the creation of a new unit on campus and the Integrated Learning Institute, where faculty develop their online classes.

“For four and a half years, I took that plan that I built in concert with a lot of colleagues and implemented it. So we changed the way that online classes were integrated into the academic department, we changed the way we pay faculty, we changed the way classes were taught,” Bott said.

Bott said the project was important to her personally because her mother was a non-traditional student, and she felt the key to growing the university's outreach was to allow those who had left or not started college to attend without leaving their families or jobs.

“Dr. Bott brought online learning from the dark into the light here at Ball State,” said Staci Davis, executive director of the Division of Online and Distance Education at Ball State. “She inspired me to ensure others around campus and outside of campus are aware of the positive impact online programs bring to students and the institution.”

After more than 10 years at Ball State, Bott said she is even more motivated to continue doing everything she can for her colleagues while doing the best job she can within the university and the Muncie community. 

“It is its own special honor to be a dean for those colleagues who taught me how to be a faculty member,” Bott said. “I always say these people helped me buy my first house. They welcomed my family. They collaborated on projects, research and teaching. And they supported me in everything. It is such an honor to be here now helping them achieve whatever they need to achieve.”

Currently, Bott is working to integrate policy procedures and faculty for the five new courses that have come from the college of Applied Science and Technology: residential property management, hospitality and food management, computer technology, fashion merchandising and apparel design and graduate program and career and technical education. 

She is also helping faculty and staff prepare the business college for reaccreditation. The process occurs in five-year cycles, so applications have started, and Bott offers her services to all who need suggestions or review. 

Aside from her work at Ball State, Bott has also been named the 2018 Campaign Chair for the United Way, giving her the responsibility to coordinate the campaign cabinet in the spring to help raise $1.2 million dollars to help the organization operate. 

Through Bott’s work, as well as her involvement with organizations in the Muncie community that support women, children and families, she strives to set an example for her two sons. 

“I took my boys to the breakfast because it is important to me as a mother of two boys to teach them that women can achieve anything, and that they need to support strong women. It was really powerful for me to have them there.”

When attending the ceremony, Aidan Bott, Jennifer’s 10-year-old son, said he enjoyed seeing other women like his mom. 

“I think my mom has worked really hard to get where she is,” Aidan Bott said. “She has a big job, but she still works hard all the time.”

Contact Tier Morrow with comments at tkmorrow@bsu.edu.